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Entries in Caccamo (3)

Thursday
Aug082013

Mad Dons and Englishmen

by Carl Russo

THE NEWS WIRES are burning about today’s capture of Domenico Rancadore, a convicted Mafia boss who skipped Sicily to become a travel agent in the UK. I thought the Internet had rendered that profession obsolete, but, apparently, booking holidays was enough to let Rancadore cruise the streets of London in Jags and Mercedes (Mercedeses?). Unless he had some side bets going.

Bernardo ProvenzanoI learned something about jolly ole England from this news: Mafia association is not a crime there. It wasn’t a crime in Italy either until a string of high-profile assassinations compelled Parliament to pass restrictive laws, in 1982. That would explain why the news agency ANSA could report the following: “Convicted of Mafia association and sentenced to six years incarceration, Mafia boss Domenico Rancadore, 62, is living in London with his wife and two children, say Italian police.” The article was dated eighteen months ago!

An interesting coincidence about this ill-tempered mobster known as “u profissuri”—“the professor”: like his fellow Caccamo boss Nino Giuffrè, Rancadore was a teacher-turned-mafioso. Giuffrè became a pentito—a witness for the state—and gave authorities a wealth of information about Corleone godfather Bernardo Provenzano’s underground business empire. I’d put money on Rancadore’s turning pentito, too, if only to save his own culo.

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Sunday
Nov272011

A Deadly Peace

by Bluto Ray

For many years, Caccamo was a model city of the Mafia. The charming mountain village east of Palermo was run with the kind of criminal efficiency that only an iron-fisted boss can demand. Despite the thirty seats occupied by the City Council’s deputies, the one that counted was unelected: an easy-chair reserved for Don Peppino Panzeca.

Mico GeraciIn the mid-twentieth century, all of Caccamo’s public moneys ran through Don Peppino’s fingers, as did the town’s permit process. Those wishing to run for office or buy land or open a shop sought his approval. He settled marital disputes and baptized babies by no one’s authority but his own. Mafia murders were what happened far away from his placid dominion.

A succession of crime bosses continued to enforce the peace in Caccamo, leading to Nino Giuffrè, a former professor at the town’s technical school who joined the Mafia in 1980. Giuffrè was quickly befriended by the powerful capo Bernardo Provenzano, a civilized Dr. Jeckyll from Corleone at odds with his Hyde-like partner, Totò Riina.

Giuffrè was soon given a seat on the Mafia Commission where he and Provenzano represented the pacifist wing in discreet opposition to Riina’s sanguinary modus. After Riina’s arrest, Giuffrè became Provenzano’s right-hand “Manuzza,” so nicknamed for his deformed hand.

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Sunday
Feb272011

Loose Dogs

by Bluto Ray

A soothing silence blankets the agricultural heartland in the northern reaches of Caltanissetta Province. Country roads, deserted but for the occasional slow-moving truck, amble past endless fields of wheat and grapevines. The towns along the way are modest and unremarkable, belying the richest commercial region of Sicily. These small concentrations of block houses look alike and, in the case of Valledolmo and the neighboring Vallelunga Pratameno, even sound alike.

Gandolfo PanepintoBut where there is money on the island there is Mafia--with its attending violence. On February 23, 1988, 41-year-old Gandolfo Panepinto was standing in front of the garage, near his home, where he worked on his neighbors’ automobiles. Two armed men appeared suddenly and opened fire. Panepinto died on the spot, filled with bullets from a pistol and a rifle. The killers and their motive remained a mystery for years. How had a small-town mechanic become a Mafia target?

In Sicily, appearances frequently deceive. A laborer might take an entrepreneurial interest in the local underworld, as Panepinto did. He had a criminal history and had just returned to Valledolmo after a court-imposed exile in the mainland city of Lecce. He wasted no time in setting up an extortion racket. His gang used the traditional method of property vandalism to intimidate local businesses who would not pay.

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